Catalysts for change are all around us to help our changing world, and the Dalai Lama is playing yet again a major though largely unrecognised role in shifting the consciousness of man.
The experiences of his adult life in Tibet and now as an exiled spiritual leader in India have taught us, those who care to see, about oppression, mendacity, human rights and human values. His spirituality and influence as a great and much loved head of one of the largest spiritual movements in the world has engendered fear and dislike in the Chinese and from this, for political and economic reasons many other world leaders hesitate to honour him as he deserves. The wishes of millions are ignored in favour of appeasement.
As a catalyst for change, the Buddhist spiritual leader teaches us through the behaviour of others towards him as well as his own wise and considered words and conduct. It was an unedifying sight to see, in a recent visit to Washington, President Obama and his advisers do all they could to obscure his brief presence there in deference to Chinese sensibilities. It was discourteous to say the least, some would say cowardly, and a good but unfortunate indicator of, for me, distorted values.
Most recently – and it has not received much media interest - Archbishop Desmond Tutu invited the Dalai Lama to his 80th birthday celebrations in Cape Town next week. The necessary visa application was submitted in June and re-submitted in August but still has not been granted by the South African government: Archbishop Tutu has called this “profoundly disrespectful” and “kowtowing to Chinese pressure”, which may well be true but not unusual in many world leaders. Interestingly, Nelson Mandela welcomed him warmly and with honour to his country when he was president.
In the experiences of the Dalai Lama we see encapsulated much that is good in a human being and, indirectly, many of man’s human frailties. He helps us to see and to choose, to learn and to grow, or to resist and be fearful, and through his essence and his being he will in time to come be recognised as having played a hugely important part in bringing about the new spiritual era on earth.
He is not the only catalyst for change among us, and you, indeed, may be one yourself, for by your actions and your presence you too can change the world around you. That is true.